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Melange of emotions

Lakshmi Ramaswamy

SANTA RASA, which brings to the individual spiritual peace is considered the ultimate goal of all our art-forms, especially so, for Bharatanatyam, as it is the basic undercurrent of this glorious art. It requires great skill to focus on this mood and cultivate it, so that it prevails over all other moods. The Rasa Bharatam series of recitals organised by Natyarangam of Narada Gana Sabha, did not impress one much nor create any great Rasaanubhava. Depiction of eight rasas by as many dancers through traditional and contemporary themes formed the subject of this event, challenging the artistes to prove their skills. While every effort of the dancers deserves praise for the commitment shown, to their chosen project, the treatment given to Bharatanatyam at such special events is a matter of concern. Incorporation of contemporary ideas into the idiom of Bharatanatyam does not always produce the right impact. The dance form as such offers ample scope for improvisation and exploration of new horizons. Watching Natyarangam one felt it was time a line was drawn somewhere to preserve its sanctity. Veteran Vyjayanthimala Bali inaugurated this series with her mature and leisurely performance depicting the entire gamut of the nine moods. In her there was a unique convergence of all the rasas, that evening. Vyjayanthi's passion for dance and her bond to the art can be termed as Bhakti Srngara. She was a blend of Raudra, Beebhatsa and Hasya moods in her on-stage interaction with her main singer; her treatment of the entire narration was one of kindness (Kaarunyam) and boldness (Veeram); she exuded the essential note of Bhaya (Bhayam) Bhakti to complete her effort with perfection. Last but not the least, Vyjayanthi always leaves the audience in a state of wonder (Adbhutam) with her ageless art and her meticulous approach. Her selection of songs for the different sentiments was impressive. However, the ``Nee matalu" Javali did not quite suit hasya rasa.

Priyadarsini Govind portrayed the various shades of the sentiment Srngara, with grace and beauty. Her picturesque postures and abhinaya filled with nuances added glitter to her presentation. Hariprasad, who had scored the music for this performance, had included appropriate ragas to suit the situation. The ragamalika composition interwoven with excerpts from different traditional love-poetry, describing the love-quarrel, and the different stages of the development thereafter between the lovers were aptly brought out, although Priya's gestural technique corresponded more to the way of the world, instead of adhering to the principles of the stage. Kaarunyam, the mood of compassion presented by Sangita Easwaran comprised four components contributing to this Rasa — death, humiliation, poverty (wrongly spelt in Tamil in the synopsis), and blows of fate. With suitable songs which included one each of Poet Vairamuthu and Manushya Puthran, Sangita ,the devoted dancer-researcher, proved that she was capable of handling such difficult aspects. Depicting social evils like child abuse in Malarum malara malar, for instance, moved the viewer. Indira Kadambi's opening number on the Navarasas set to an assortment of Nritta segments along with appropriate musical support was refreshing, although her technique, especially the delineations of hands were harsh. Indira should realise that firmness is different from stiffness. The introductory number depicting the sentiment of Haasya and its presiding deity Lord Ganapati with the song, ``Come O! bulky Ganapati... " (yes, in English) was in bad taste. Indira's singer-husband, Ramprasad, sang the song. One felt sad that the talented couple had chosen to indulge in an effort, which seemed to mock at not only Bharatanatyam but a revered Hindu deity. It was painful to see Indira depicting the pot-belly of the God with a plastic container, the trunk with a long spiral PVC pipe, etc., and covering them as though in traditional drama, with a silk shawl. And the way the dancer stripped al these attachments right in front of the audience, was totally lacking in decorum and discipline. The organising committee of Natyarangam should check with the dancers to make sure that the dignity of the art form does not take a beating when such ``innovative" programmes are presented. J. Suryanarayanamurthy, a versatile dancer, gave a dignified picture on aspects of Beebhatsam. His treatment of the unstable nature of human life through a Tevaram composition was well presented. Adbhutam was handled by Lakshmi Ramaswamy. Initially Lakshmi seemed a little nervous and there was no note of Adbhutam in her facial expressions. But soon she gained in confidence to portray the sentiment appropriately. The composition, ``Deva Gangai" describing episodes from Siva Leela, deserves special mention. With skilful depictions, she embellished with dance narration, four (Pudumai, Perumai, Sirumai and Aakkam) of the aspects. Ravi Subramaniam had penned the contemporary song for this presentation.


The event featured dancers, A. Laksman (Raudram) Gayatri Balaguunathan (Bhayam), P. T. Narendran (Veeram) and senior dancer Padma Subramanyam (Navarasam). Thamarai and Krishangini were the other two contemporary poets who contributed for this occasion. Well-known art director P. Krishnamurthi, who is more used to working for larger projects, did not quite hit it off. His arrangement of feminine faces pinned to a decorative piece on either side of the dais did not seem to convey anything. Kalanidhi Narayanan and singer T. M. Krishna were the resource persons. The Natyarangam honoured during this annual event, K. J. Sarasa (Guru), S. Rajeswari (Musician), P. Obul Reddy Endowment award for senior dancer, Indira Kadambi and Talent Promotion award - R. Vijay Madhavan. S. Rajaram, Director, Kalakshetra, inaugurated this festival.


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